February 2, 2018

Presentation

February 2, 2018:  Presentation of the Lord

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Legend below
Listen

  • Thus saith the Lord/But who may abide the day of his coming?, from Messiah/ Handel:  traditional, "soulful" (1st reading)
For Psalm 24

Pope Francis

HomilyIn the East, today's feast is the “Feast of Encounter”:  the encounter between God, who became a child to renew our world, and expectant humanity, represented by the elderly man and woman in the Temple.

In the Temple, there is also an encounter between young Mary and Joseph and elderly Simeon and Anna. The old receive from the young; the young draw from the old.  Mary and Joseph find their people's roots; God’s promise is fulfilled within a community and in history.  They, and we, learn faith by living with God and from the experience of our ancestors. The young found themselves through meeting the old, and the older people received Jesus, the meaning of their lives. The event fulfilled Joel's prophecy.  In this encounter, with Jesus at the center, the young see their mission, and the elderly realize their dreams.

Our journey of consecration started from an encounter with the Lord and a call from him.  In that encounter there was also the people of God, young and old, as in today’s Gospel, where young Mary and Joseph observe the Law and never speak, and elderly Simeon and Anna prophesy.  We'd expect the young to speak about the future and the elderly to protect the past, but when we meet each other in the Lord, God surprises us.  We can't renew our encounter with the Lord without others; we must accompany one another, with the Lord at the center.  The young are to open new doors; the elderly hold the keys. There's no future without encounter between old and young, no growth without roots, no flowering without new buds, no prophecy without memory, no memory without prophecy, and encounter.

Today’s frantic pace leads us to close doors to encounter, but people are gifts from God to be cherished.  May we never look at our phone more than them.  When we focus on our projects, consecrated life forgets its roots and no longer flourishes or speaks to others.  Consecrated life is born of an encounter with Jesus poor, chaste, and obedient.  Our journey involves God’s initiative and our response, imitating Jesus in poverty, chastity, and obedience. While the fleeting world tries to take hold of us, consecrated life embraces the Everlasting One. The world pursues selfish desires; consecrated life frees us to love God and others.  Worldly life urges to do what we want; consecrated life chooses obedience as the greater freedom.  Worldly life leaves us empty; life in Jesus fills us with peace, as in the Gospel, where Simeon and Anna joyfully come to the sunset of their lives with the Lord in their arms.

How good it is for us to hold the Lord in our arms, in our hands, in all we do:  prayer, work, school, at table, on the phone, with the poor, everywhere.  Encounter with Jesus corrects saccharine piety and hyperactivity, remedies the paralysis of routine, and opens us up to the “havoc” of grace.  If we don't encounter Jesus and let him encounter us, we become stifled, disgruntled, bitter, and disappointed.  If we encounter Jesus and others daily, we won't be set on the past or future but will experience the “today of God” in peace.

The encounter of the women at the tomb with Jesus also inspires consecrated life. Their journey seemed a pointless encounter with the dead, as can yours in a world rejecting poverty, chastity, and obedience, but like them, move ahead, don't worry about stones that need to be removed, be the first to meet the risen Lord, cling to him, and go with joy to tell others, as the Church’s perennial dawn.  Renew your encounter with Jesus, and walk together towards him....  Full text

Prayer intentionCorruption, a process of death, is at the root of slavery, unemployment, and disregard for nature and goods held in common.  The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits.  Speak about corruption, denounce it, and try to understand it so as to show resolve to make mercy reign over meanness, beauty over nothingness.  Pray that all may resist the lure of corruption.

At conference against religious violenceGod, lover of life, exhorts us to reject violence.  Violence is the negation of every authentic religious expression.  We must denounce violations of human dignity and rights, expose attempts to justify hatred in the name of religion, and condemn these attempts as idolatry.


Violence in the name of religion discredits religion and must be condemned.  God is goodness, love, and compassion, with no room for hatred, resentment, or vengeance.  It's blasphemy to justify sins, crimes, killing, enslavement, exploitation, oppression, or persecution by invoking God's name.  We must unmask any attempt to manipulate God to such ends.  Every human life is sacred and so deserves respect, esteem, compassion, and solidarity.  Adherence to a particular religion does not confer additional dignity or rights, nor does non-adherence diminish them.

We must all warn all those tempted by misguided religiosity.  This will help people of good will to encounter the One who frees us from fear, hatred, and violence and desires to use our creativity and energy to spread his plan of love and peace for all.

Read
    Turtle doves (gospel)
  • Mal 3:1-4  My messenger will prepare the way.  The Lord will come to the temple, but who will endure that day?  He, like the refiner’s fire, will purify the sons of Levi, that they may offer sacrifice pleasing to God.
  • Ps 24:7-10  "Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!"  Open up that the king of glory, strong and mighty, may enter!
    Two young pigeons (gospel)
  • Heb 2:14-18  Jesus shared in our flesh to free those subject to slavery.  He had to become like us to expiate sin.  Because he was tested through suffering, he can help those being tested.
  • Lk 2:22-40  Mary and Joseph presented Jesus to God.  Simeon prayed to their amazement:  “Master, you may let me go in peace; I've seen your salvation, a light to Gentiles and glory for Israel.” To Mary: “This child will be a sign to be contradicted, and a sword will pierce you.”  Prophetess Anna thanked God and spoke about the child.  Jesus grew and became strong and wise, and God's favor was on him.  They returned to Nazareth.
Reflect
  • Creighton:  Today's feast is called Presentation of the Lord, but “Presentation of Jesus” may be preferable since it's about the baby Jesus.  But the Church's title better catches Luke's apparent intention.  Gabriel had announced the unborn Jesus as Son of the Most High, Elizabeth had implicitly called the child in Mary’s womb Lord, and the angel had announced Jesus as “Messiah and Lord.”  So Luke is aware of the irony when he writes that Mary and Joseph “presented him to the Lord,” offering sacrifice in accord with the law of the Lord.  The child, to be proclaimed as Messiah and Lord, begins his earthly existence obedient to the Lord.  A further irony, the offering of the sacrifice to redeem the firstborn, is done for the One who will offer himself to redeem the world.  Simeon blesses God with language a slave might use upon being freed:  “Master, you may let your servant ('slave') go in peace.”  Then he describes Jesus as the suffering servant Israel, salvation in person, the glory of his people, a light for revelation to the gentiles, including us.  We who claim Jesus as Lord take that mission as ours.  Lord, teach us to receive Jesus as our light so deeply that we become light to those around us.
    Presentation of Christ
    in the Temple (Holbein)
  • One Bread, One Body:  "Present-able?"  In Jesus' Presentation, the small sacrifice prefigured Jesus' ultimate sacrifice. We're called to be like Mary and open our hearts to be pierced with suffering. We are called to worship, fast, and pray like Anna.  We should be like the candles blessed at today's Mass, consumed like Jesus to shine to the world.  We should be crucified with Christ and find joy in suffering according to the pattern of his death. The Presentation is no longer in the Temple but at the cross. May we present ourselves to the Lord.
  • Passionist:  Today's gospel is a clear and compelling affirmation of the value of life; it gathers the wisdom of age, the aspirations of a young family, and religious traditions that value the life and days of each member of the scenario.  Jesus is helpless, carried in his parents' arms to be presented in the Temple.  Though he's totally dependent on his parents, he's the promised savior, whom Mary carried to Elizabeth's house to meet unborn John the Baptist.  Now he's brought to the Temple for a ritual that acknowledges that life comes from God, and he belongs more to the Lord than to his parents.  Mary must have been reliving the past year's events:  the angel's visit, the fear that Joseph might repudiate her, the validation of her “yes” to God in Jesus' birth, Joseph's taking her as his wife, with only a dream to base his lifelong fidelity on.  God's promise to Simeon that he'd welcome the Savior was fulfilled.  Anna recognized in the Child the fulfillment of her hope, thanked God, and spoke about the Child to all awaiting Jerusalem's redemption, beginning the Church’s mission of evangelization.  No stage of life is removed from God's saving plan.  God is calling each of us into life to help redeem the world.  Infant Jesus, his parents, the senior citizens all speak of the importance of each life.  The willingness to accept all human life as the medium of God’s presence sets us apart from those for whom new life is inconvenient.  As long as the taking of any human life disturbs us and drives us to look for alternatives and ways to heal those who have made such decisions, we're not far from God's Kingdom.
  • DailyScripture.net:  "The favor of God was upon him":  Children are gifts from God.  Jesus was born in an ordinary home with no luxuries, and his parents raised him in the fear and wisdom of God.  He obeyed them and grew in wisdom and grace.  The Lord's favor is with those who listen to him with trust and obedience. / Simeon, in tune with the Spirit, believed the Lord would renew his people and also bring salvation to the Gentiles.  He recognized baby Jesus as the fulfillment of the messianic prophecies, hopes, and prayers and prophesied that Jesus would be "a revealing light to the Gentiles."  The Spirit reveals the Lord's presence to those open and eager to receive him. / Jesus is the new temple:  God manifested his presence in cloud and fire.  His glory dwelt over the ark and the tabernacle.  It rested on the first Jerusalem temple, and when the temple was destroyed, Ezekiel saw God's glory leave it.  But God promised to fill it with greater glory; later, the King of Glory came to his temple.  Through Jesus we're made living temples of the Spirit. / Simeon prophesied to Mary about Jesus' destiny and her suffering.  Her blessedness would become a sword that pierced her heart as her Son died.  But the sorrow didn't diminish her joy because of her faith, hope, and trust in God.  The Lord gives us joy that enables us to bear any sorrow or pain. / Spirit-filled Anna was a woman of great hope, a model of godliness to all who advance in age.  Her hope and faith fueled her prayer and service.  The Spirit gives hope to all who trust God; it enables us to persevere through any challenges.  May I give God everything I have....
Dress legend
  • 'Clocks' suspenders:  who shall endure the day of his coming? (1st reading)
  • 'Fire' pin:  He is like the refiner's fire (1st reading)
  • 'Crown' tie bar:  The Lord is the king of glory (psalm)
  • 'Blood drop' pin:  Jesus shared in blood and flesh like the children (2nd reading)
  • 'Christmas lights' tie:  Christ is a light to the nations (gospel); Christmas season used to extend through today
  • Gold- and silver-colored accessories:  The Lord will refine Levi like gold or silver (1st reading)
  • 'Angel' pin:  Jesus helped Abraham's descendants, not angels (2nd reading)
  • 'Dove' pin:  The Holy Spirit was upon Simeon (gospel)
  • 'Peace sign' tie bar:  "Now you may let your servant go in peace"; Jesus will be 'sign' to be contradicted (gospel)
  • 'Eyeball' tie pin:  "My eyes have seen your salvation" (gospel)
  • 'Mary' pin:  "Mary, a sword will pierce you..." (gospel)
  • 'Heart' pin:  "...so the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed" (gospel)
  • 'Owl' pin:  Jesus grew in wisdom (gospel)
  • White shirt:  Color of today's feast of the Lord